All pictures made last evening in the Adirondack PARK
Without trying to put too fine a point on the word (but doing it nevertheless), in yesterday's entry on TOP, How Do You Become a Photographer?, Mike Johnston wrote about "work[ing] out your style." While my featured comment on that entry did not (deliberately) address the idea of style, I would like to address the idea that, iM(considered)o, style and vision are very different concepts.
Style is a signature look that commercial photographers adopt in order to stand out from the crowd. Most often the style is developed as means to market oneself. And, if a photographer has a style which appeals to clients-ad agncies and their clients)-then he/she elevates themselves to a position in the marketplace that takes them out of the bid-for-assignment fray ... if an agency creative / art director sells a photographer's style to a client, then he/she will have to submit a job estimate but not a bid against other competing bids. The job is theirs from the start. I know this for a fact inasmuch as that's the horse I rode across the finish line during my 30 year career in comercial photography.
True vision is a signature look that is developed / recognized without any commercial / marketing / business intent. It's emergence is entirely individual personhood driven inasmuch as true vision is the outward manifestation of an (seemingly) innate / preternatural manner of looking and seeing the world. In the photography world, it is independent of rules, conventions and theories. I believe it is accurate to write that true vision is felt rather than thought. That true vision is there-internal, within the confines of an individual's pysche-for the artist to find and recognize. CAVEAT: not everyone is or can be an artist.
And, as I wrote in my TOP featured comment, I truly believe that the only way to find one's true vision, is to start making pictures, lots of picture, with absolutely no intent in mind. In other words, an almost mindless pursuit of point and shoot picture making .... point a picture making device at whatever-independent of what you have been told is suitable to be photographed-strikes your fancy, pricks your eye or artistic sensibilities and then shoot it.
In the act of shooting pictures, banish all thoughts of rules and photography conventions. Just trip the shutter (real or virtual) when your framing and the arrngement of the referent(s) within the frame look "right" to your eye. Don't think about it. Just do it.
Then make a boat load of proof prints and just look at them. Don't think about them. Just try to be open-minded in order to recognize those pictures which feel "right" to your eye and sensibilities. Not perfectly right but close enough to "speak" to your innate vision. Therein is the seed of your vision.
At that point, it is time to think. To think in order to recognize what it is in those prints that pricks your eye and sensibilities. Once you can identify, however loosely, those characteristics-visual + emotional + intellectual-you, most likely, will never have to think about again.